Posts Tagged ‘Adam’s Sin’

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1-Chapter 7-The Punishment of Sin-Number 2


“The wages of sin is death,” God said to Adam, concerning the forbidden fruit, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (#Ge 2:17). This threatened penalty of death was not pronounced upon Adam as a private individual merely, but as a public and representative person. It was a race penalty. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (#Ro 5:12). The first sin was a race sin and the penalty thereof must have been a race penalty. The whole human race was in Adam, the first man, both seminally and legally, and his act was considered as their act; not personally but representatively. Every man by nature is guilty with Adam’s guilt, just as every believer is righteous with Christ’s righteousness. Believers are not righteous personally, that is, by their own obedience; they are righteous representatively by the obedience of Christ, their Surety.

The death threatened against, and passed unto, all men was not a corporeal death merely. Physical death is a mere incident and is not universal. There have been two notable exceptions (Enoch and Elijah), and there will be many alive, who will not die physically, when the Lord returns. “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed…for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (#1Co 15:51,52). Furthermore, physical death did not occur until some 930 years after the sin was committed; whereas God said, “in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (#Gen 2:17).

The death which passed unto all men was the loss of divine favor and exposedness to divine wrath. It was not the death of man considered as a physical being but as a moral and accountable being. Moral death was the result of a break with God. Man broke with God when he tried to seize the reins of government and do as he pleased. Sin separates from God and brings His condemnation. Physical death is the result of the separation of the body and spirit “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (#Jas 2:26). Moral death is the result of separation of man as a moral being from God. The sinner, although alive physically, is alienated from the life of God “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (#Eph 4:18); “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled” (#Col 1:21).


The words life and death are antonyms, and it is axiomatic that a man cannot be both dead and alive in the same sense at the same time. But one may be dead in one sense and alive in another sense at the same time. This is obvious from the saying of our Lord: “But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (#Mt 8:22). He meant for those dead morally to bury the physical dead.

Life and death are not synonyms of existence and non-existence, but rather of condition of existence. Death never means non-existence or the cessation of being. In the moral sense life is a condition of existence, and death is the opposite condition of existence. To have life as a moral being is to exist under the favor of God and to be free from the wrath to come. To be dead as a moral being is to exist without His favor and to be exposed to His wrath. This will become more apparent as we continue these discussions.


The second death is punishment in the lake of fire. And this will be for both soul and body of the lost. Physical death is not everlasting, for “there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (#Ac 24:15). Death (dead bodies) and hades (lost souls) are to be cast into the lake of fire. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (#Re 20:14). And this is the second death. We will not here and now give proof that the second death is eternal. This will come out in a later article (D.V.). However, it does not seem reasonable that the fire will burn them up in the sense of putting them out of conscious existence. If this were true the only difference between the martyred saints and the wicked would be in time and place of suffering. The martyrs (many of them) were burned to death, and if their tormentors are only to be burned up and put out of existence, then their salvation was not the previous thing they supposed it to be. A brother who believes in conditional immortality wrote me that he knew of no Scripture that taught that the wicked would suffer in hell longer than five minutes. Cheap salvation! Sweet morsel to the wicked! If that were true.

Man is both a physical and a psychic being, that is, he has both body and soul. As a physical being his body was made of the same substance as that of the beasts of the field. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul…And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof” (#Ge 2:7,19). As a psychic being he became a living soul when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (Heb. lives). This is not said concerning the origin of the soul of the beast. The beast has a soul (this will be proven later), but it did not get its soul like man got his. Man as the acme of creation was made in the image of God, which must mean that he has something which does not belong to the beast of the field. This image of God in man is spirit. God is a Spirit and man must have a spirit to be in His image. In making man a living soul, God communicated to him that which made him in His image. Man, by virtue of his creation, has a body and a soul which gives him kinship with the beasts, but he also has a spirit which relates him to God. F.W. Grant makes a very helpful distinction between the soul and spirit:

“The ‘soul,’ is in Scripture the seat of the passions, emotions, sensibility, as the spirit of the mental and moral judgment. These latter, in any real sense, the beast has not. The spirit it is which is in man, which knows the things of a man “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (#1Co 2:11). But he learns them, gathering the materials of judgment through the soul-the senses; and as the body begins to develop before even the soul, so does the soul before the spirit. Spirit in man depends, thus, really upon the soul; and it is striking that just when absent from the body his real distinction begins to manifest it self. The soul survives, indeed, the stroke of death; but is now called what he never was before, a ‘spirit’ “But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit….Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (#Lu 24:37,39); “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both. And there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees’ part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God” (#Ac 23:8,9); “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (#Heb 12:23): “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;” (#1Pe 3:19).

Grant tells us that man is called Adam, from Adamah (Heb.), the ground, to remind him of his origin “dust thou art”; and he is called a soul to remind him of his likeness to the beasts; but he is never called a spirit until after he takes his departure from the body. We read of the spirits of just men made perfect, and of spirits in prison.


Man as a physical and also a moral being is subject to two kinds of death: namely, physical and moral. There is only one physical death for any man. “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment” (#Heb 9:27). Notice the accuracy of Scripture. It is not “man” the generic, but “men” as individuals. Physical death is not appointed for “man” the whole race, but for men. We have already pointed out exceptions.

Man considered as a moral being may experience two deaths: the first and the second. All who are saved will experience but one death; all who are not saved will experience two deaths. “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death” (#Re 2:11). Nobody has escaped the first death, for that death passed upon all men.

The first death is also clearly defined in the Scriptures. It is to be “dead in law,” or judicial death. It is to be dead in trespasses and sins. It is death in the sense of guilt and depravity. It is the death of condemnation. The antithesis of judicial death is “justification of life.” “Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (#Ro 5:18). “He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (#Joh 5:24). Everlasting life is equivalent to justification and is opposed to condemnation. As a moral being the believer is justified by God, and will never be condemned. He has passed out from under the curse of God’s law and exists under the favor of God. Life and death in the judicial sense are generally overlooked by commentators.

The believer is told to “reckon himself as dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ” (#Ro 6:11). This means that the believer is dead to the guilt of sin—no longer exposed to the wrath of God; and that he is alive or justified before God by virtue of the imputed righteousness of Christ. We also have this aspect of life and death in I #Joh 5:12: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” And again in #Joh 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” The sword of divine justice hangs over the head of the unbeliever; the benedictions of the heavenly Father are pronounced upon the believer in Christ.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1-Chapter 2-The Origin Of Sin


This is one of the most difficult questions in theology. Since God made everything good in the original creation, how did sin get started? How was a good creation thrown into rebellion against its Creator? By whom and how was sin originated? There is much we cannot know about the question. But there are some necessary inferences.

1. Sin is not eternal; it had a beginning. The Gnostics believed in two eternal principles: good and evil.

2. Sin was not created by God. God created everything good; He is not the Author of sin. Moral beings were without sin when created. Satan was created a sinless and perfect being “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (#Eze 28:15). God made man upright. “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (#Ec 7:29).

3. Sin was not the necessary result of finiteness. Some claim that because God made man a finite being sin was inevitable. But if this be true, men will always be sinners for none of us will ever become infinite. Infinity belongs only to God.

4. Sin had its origin in a principle of negation, which means that it is not the result of any positive force. Moral beings were created good, but not immutably and independently good. This would have made them equal with God; it would have involved the absurdity of God creating another God. God alone is immutable and independent. There cannot be more than one God, self-existent and self-sufficient, sovereign and supreme.

Moral beings, angels and man, were dependent upon God in remaining good. A sustaining power must continually go out from God if moral creatures continue as created. “Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved” (#Ps 66:9); “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring” (#Ac 17:28); “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (#Col 1:16,17); “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:” (#Heb 1:3).

Now this sustaining power is of grace and not of debt. It is not a matter of justice. God could exercise this grace or not as it pleased Him. He could have upheld and confirmed in holiness all moral beings. He could have prevented sin from ever getting started among the angels, just as He graciously prevented it from spreading, confirming in holiness those referred to as the elect angels: “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” (#1Ti 5:21). He could have kept the sinless Adam from sinning. It will not do to say that because God made Adam a free moral agent, He could not prevent his sinning without violating the freedom of his will. God withheld Abimilech, king of Gerar, from sinning by not allowing him to harm Sarah. “And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her” (#Ge 20:6).

So sin had its origin in the withholding of that grace necessary to sustain moral beings in a state of holiness. If God had not permitted sin there could have been no display of some of His most glorious attributes. There would have been no display of mercy, for mercy must have an object of misery, and there could have been no misery apart from sin. There would have been no exhibition of wrath and anger and hatred, for these are the exercise of justice and holiness against sin. There would have been no display of such gracious love as is seen in God’s gift of His Son, who was punished for sinners that they might not perish in their sins. Surely it is not too much to say that God permitted sin that He might overrule it “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (#Eph 1:6). “Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain” (#Ps 76:10).


Sin originated among the angels. That slimy, slippery, shining, subtle thing we call sin was hatched the day Lucifer, son of the morning, said, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God… I will be like the most High” (#Isa 14:13,14). Lucifer sought equality with God in government, and sovereignty was the bait he held out to man to turn him against his Maker. And in sinning, man has become the tool and ally of Satan.

Most people have a woefully inadequate conception of sin. Sin is the abominable thing God hates. Sin is something more than a slight misdemeanor for which God merely gives man a scolding; sin is a species of high treason against the Almighty and thrice-holy God, and is to be punished by consignment to the lake of fire.


In the human race sin was derived from the first man: “Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned” (#Rom 5:12 R.V.)

Now there are but two conceivable ways sin can pass from one to another. The one is by way of example, as Jereboam caused Israel to sin, and as Eve caused Adam to sin. The other is by partaking of the sin of another. It is obvious that our being sinners is not due to the force of Adam’s example. Moreover, in the comparison between Adam and Christ “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (#Ro 5:19), it is intended to show that sin came by Adam as righteousness comes by Christ. Now we do not become righteous by following Christ as an example, but by partaking of His righteousness. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (#1Co 1:30). This raises the question of Adam’s relation to his descendants.


Adam was the head of the human race. This headship was both natural and federal—-natural by the principle of generation (like begets like); federal by Divine appointment.

1. Adam was the natural father or head of the race.

“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (#Ac 17:26); “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit” (#1Co 15:45). Every person was seminally in Adam. He begat children in his own moral and physical likeness, not before but after his fall. His children became heir to all his ills of body and soul. They inherited his moral depravity and physical weakness. His nature was imparted to his posterity.

2. Adam was the federal head of the race.

This means that Adam was appointed a public and representative person. He represented the race in the covenant of works. “But they like Adam have transgressed the covenant” (#Ho 6:7 R.V.). The federal headship explains why Adam’s sin was imputed (charged) to his posterity. “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (#Ro 5:19). Adam was acting for the whole race and what he did was charged to all his descendants. This is the only way to explain the death of infants. Infants die because of Adams’ sin, or they die for no reason at all, since they have not sinned personally “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come” (#Ro 5:14). If Adam did not represent infants in respect to sin, then Christ did not represent them in respect to salvation. If they were not guilty with Adams guilt, they could not be righteous with Christ’s righteousness. Babies go to heaven, not on the grounds of innocency, but on the ground of the blood of Christ. If Christ had not died the whole human race, infants and all, would have been forever doomed. There will be nobody in heaven except those redeemed by the blood of Christ. Infants have the guilt of Adam imputed to them without their knowledge and consent. And on the ground of the death of Christ for them the Holy Spirit prepares their nature (which is sinful) for the enjoyment of heaven.


In And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven” (#1Co 15:45,47), Jesus is called the second man and the last Adam. This is not in respect of existence, but representation. He is not considered personally but representatively. Considered as an individual. He was not the second man or the last Adam. Individually, there were many men between the Adam of Eden and the Adam of Calvary, and there have been many men since Jesus. He is called the last Adam because there are but two public or representative men. God deals with all men through two men, and our destiny depends upon which of these two men we have our standing in before God. Believers are accepted in the beloved “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (#Eph 1:6), and are complete in Him “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” (#Col 2:10).


There are two aspects or branches of sin:

1. That which consists of the guilt of some deed committed:

2. Inherent corruption or depravity of nature contracted by that guilt. The sinner’s standing is that of guilt before the law of God; his state is that of depravity or corruption of nature.

Two things resulted from Adams’ first sin:

1. He was charged with guilt and condemned by the law of God:

2. He lost the likeness of God in holiness and became corrupt. Now which of these, or did both of these branches of sin, come from Adam? Some say the guilt of sin is imputed, hence their baptism of infants lest they should go to hell. Others say the corruption of nature was imparted. But we believe that sin in its two branches was derived from Adam. Guilt was imputed, and the corruption of nature was imparted or inherited. In other words, depravity or corruption of nature is one of the consequences of Adam’s transgression. Does God punish the innocent? The answer is a loud, No! Then we must all have been represented by Adam in the transgression or we would not be punished with a sinful nature.


How many of Adam’s sins were charged to his posterity? Only one for it is written, “For the judgment was by one (sin) to the condemnation, but the free gift is of many offenses unto justification” (#Ro 5:16).

Adam could convey sin to his posterity only as long as he was a public or representative person. Immediately after his first sin, he was put out of office and another covenant was published “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (#Ge 3:15). And when Adam exercised faith in the promised Redeemer, he was acting in a private capacity; otherwise, his faith would have been imputed as well as his sin. Let both writer and reader thank God for the last Adam who is a life-giving Spirit.

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 1

Chapter 23-The Effects of the Sin of Adam

The Effects of the Sin of Adam

THE immediate effects of Adam’s sin, as indicated in the narrative in Genesis, were (1) shame, or fear of God’s presence, and (2) making excuse for his sin and casting the blame upon the woman and his maker. Gen. 3:7-13.

The immediate curse uttered against the woman was (1) danger to her and her seed from the serpent and his seed, (2) multiplied pain and sorrow in childbirth, and (3) a condition of subservience to her husband. Gen. 3:15-16.

That against the man was (1) that thorns and thistles should hinder the cultivation of the ground, (2) that by hard labour in the sweat of his face should he eat his bread, and (3) a positive declaration of the return of the man to the dust whence he had been taken. Gen. 3:17-19.

The evils thus threatened have not been confined to Adam and Eve, but have fallen also upon all their posterity. Whatever may be the connection between Adam and that posterity, it is generally admitted that the latter share with him all these evils.

In seeking then into the effects of Adam’s sin we shall find them in connection with the evil condition of his posterity, as well as of himself.

The curses uttered in the garden are not to be taken as exhaustive of the curse threatened. They are such only as were immediately suggested by the peculiar attendant circumstances of Adam’s sin, and are to be regarded merely as examples of its evil effects. Still even they have not been confined to Adam, but have come equally upon the race at large.

All the evil effects of Adam’s sin are comprised under the one word “death.” This was the threatened penalty. But what is meant by it?


I. Natural death is included. By this is meant the separation of the soul and the body, and the consequent decay of the body.

1. It has been objected that this is not a result of Adam’s sin because the very nature of the body (dust) made it necessary that it should return to dust.

To this it may be replied:

(1.) That it is not certain that there were in man’s body before his sin any elements of decay which would naturally lead to separation from the soul and to corruption.

(2.) But even if we admit that the body is naturally mortal and liable to corruption, it does not follow that had man not sinned, he would have died. God might have continued forever to preserve his powers unimpaired, either by direct preservation or by some remedial means. Some think, not without reason that this would have been done through the tree of life.

(3.) The objection overlooks the fact that, from the nature of God’s foreknowledge and purpose, things in themselves natural are made the punishments of others with which they are associated. In like manner also is it with his blessings. The whole narrative of the fall is full of examples of this principle. Of this kind is the serpent’s curse, “upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life,” Gen. 3:14; of this also that connected with the natural injuries which men and serpents would inflict on each other, Gen. 3:15; that of the rule of the husband over the wife, Gen. 3:17; and that of the thorns and thistles in the ground and the sweat and the labour for the means of life, Gen. 3:18, 19.

2. A second objection against regarding natural death as part of the penalty is that the threatened penalty was a death which should occur on the very day the fruit should be eaten.

(1.) This might be an objection if it were claimed that the penalty of natural death was the only penalty, or if it could be shown that the death thus threatened was so exclusive as to forbid that natural death should be in any way associated with it.

(2.) It is even doubtful whether the corrupt tendency to death and its beginnings may not be ascribed to the very hour of Adam’s sin. If that sin removed all hope of God’s counteracting the natural mortality, this would be so; whether it was to be counteracted, as Lange quotes Knobel as supposing [Comm. on Genesis, p. 239], “through the tree of life,” or by some other means. It would also be true if; as Lange thinks, the threatened penalty, “death, here corresponding to the biblical conception of death, must be taken primarily to mean moral death, which goes out of the soul or heart, and, through the soul-life, gradually fastens itself upon the physical organism.” Comm. on Gen., p.207. Under such circumstances the moral death would be the eventual cause of the physical death, and to the latter would be assigned the same time of beginning with the former. This might also be done, even if the gradual decay were a mere accompaniment of the moral death without being actually caused by it.

In favour of the idea that natural death is included in the penalty, there is:

1. The probability that while spiritual death does come upon man, the outward event, the name of which is used to express this evil result in the soul, would itself also constitute a part of that which is indicated by its name.

Hence it is that to one who does not carefully study the Scripture statements, the most obvious idea is that the death threatened was chiefly natural death.

2. This probability is rendered certain by the specific curse uttered in the garden after the transgression:

“Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Gen. 3:19.

3. It is confirmed by other passages of Scripture. Lange, Gen., p.239, thinks that the teaching of the 90th Psalm is undoubtedly that death belongs solely to the punishment of sin. But whether so, or not, it is unquestionably the teaching of Romans 5:12-14; also of 1 Cor. 15:21, 22, 55, 56. [See some valuable remarks on this point in Edwards’ Works, vol. 2, p.373.]


II. Spiritual death was also an effect of Adam a sin. Our inquiry into natural death as a penalty leads us to look for some other and higher evil as resulting from sin. It must be something which occurred at the very time of eating, which affected that part of man that was naturally immortal, and which was also connected with that part with which conscious personality is inseparably associated.

1. It must therefore be the death of the soul.

The Scriptures present this in several aspects, showing it in each case not only by statements of what it is, but by contrasting it with the life of the soul. It is presented as (1) Alienation from God. (2) Loss of God’s favour. (3) Loss of acceptance with him.

It is contrasted with life in many passages, as Lev. 18:5; Deut. 8:3; 30:15-19; Ps. 119:17, 77, 116; Matt. 4:4; John 5:24.

That this death has come upon mankind is evident from the fact that the Scriptures speak of man in his fallen state as being “without God in the world,” Eph. 2:12; as “alienated from the life of God,” Eph. 4:18. It says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Rom. 3:23. Also that “the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth,” Ps. 11:5. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men,” Rom. 1:18. It is not only said that “he that believeth not hath been judged already,” but that “the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:18, 36.

It is also evident from the work of Christ, which was to reconcile man to God, and to propitiate his good will. Hence Christ speaks of himself as giving living water. We are said to live in Christ.

2. This spiritual death was not only the death of the soul,–as seen in the various aspects of alienation, loss of God’s favour and of acceptance with him, referred to above,–but it also consisted in a corrupt nature. The Scripture statements as to this corruption show:

(1.) Its universal extent. It is found in every man. “There is no man that sinneth not,” 1 Kings 8:46. “There is none that doeth good,” Ps. 14:1; and this is emphasized in v.3 by adding “no, not one.” See also Rom. 3:10 and the argument of the context. Also Ps. 53:1-3; 130:3; Prov. 20:9; Ecc. 7:20; Isa. 53:6; 64:6; Rom. 3:23; 5:12, 14; Gal. 3:22; 1 John 1:8-10; 5:19.

To the above passages might be added arguments for the universal existence of sin from the declared necessity of regeneration in each man; from the direction to preach the gospel to every creature; and the assertion that there is no salvation for any man except in the name of Christ.

(2.) Its early appearance in man’s life is another proof that corruption is the effect of Adam’s sin. Certain passages of Scripture are supposed to refer to young children as though innocent of guilt. These are such as Matt. 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; and Luke 18:15-17, “Of such is the kingdom of God.” Also Matt. 18:3: “Except ye turn and become as little children.” Also 1 Cor. 14:20: “Be not children in mind: howbeit in malice be ye babes, but in mind be men.” [See Gill’s Body of Divinity, I., 474.]

But these passages do not teach freedom from corruption. On the other hand, corruption in early infancy is plainly taught. “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies,” Ps. 58:3. “Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me,” Ps. 51:5. “Foolishness (wickedness) is bound up in the heart of a child,” Prov. 22:15.

(3.) The fact of this corruption. Before the flood it is said: “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” Gen. 6:5. “Every one of them is gone back; they are altogether become filthy,” Ps. 53:3; see also Ecc. 8:11; Matt. 15:19; Rom. 1st chapter at length, as to the heathen, in connection with Paul’s question, Rom. 3:9. Similar descriptions appear in Isa. 59:3-14; in Gal. 5:19-21; Titus 3:3; 2 Pet. 2:13-18.

(4.) This corruption extends to every affection of the heart and mind. Mr. Goodwin, in the Lime Street Lectures, p. 128, says: “The soul is corrupted with all its faculties; the mind with darkness and ignorance, Eph. 5:3; being subject to the sensitive part, and strongly prejudiced against the things of God, 1 Cor. 4:24; the conscience with stupidity and insensibleness, Titus 1:15; the will with stubbornness and rebellion, Rom. 8:7; the affections are become carnal and placed either upon unlawful objects, or upon lawful in an unlawful manner or degree, Col. 3:2; the thoughts and imaginations are full of pride, and vanity, and disorder, Gen. 6:5. And as for the body, that is become a clog, instead of being serviceable to the soul, and all its members and senses instruments of unrighteousness to sin, Rom. 7:19. It is, I say, in general a universal depravation of every part in man since the fall; and more particularly it consists in a privation of all good, in an enmity to God and the things of God, and in a propensity to all evil.” See also Hodge, vol. 2, p. 255, and Gill’s Divinity, vol. 1, p. 474. [Better proof texts than those referred to in the above quotation are Eph. 4:18 and Rom. 1:21 instead of Eph. 5:3; and Rom. 6:12; 7:24 and 8:5-7 instead of 1 Cor. 4:24.]

(5.) This corruption has not been equally developed in all. The doctrine of total depravity does not mean such equal development. The Scriptures recognize degrees of wickedness as well as of hardening of the heart, and even blinding of the minds of some. But they also represent that the lack of this development is due to differing circumstances and restraints by which some men are providentially surrounded.

(6.) This corruption does not destroy accountability or responsibility for present sins.

(a) The Scriptures universally recognize man’s liability to punishment for all the thoughts of his mind, and the desires of his heart or the emotions of his physical nature, as well as for his acts. These are characterized by more or less of heinousness according to their nature and the circumstances under which they are committed. The more intense the corruption, the more guilty is the man regarded.

(b) The conscience of mankind approves these teachings of Scripture. We do not excuse men because of any state of moral corruption. The evidence of this is seen in the immediate difference which is made whenever physical compulsion or physical disease (insanity) leads to an act which otherwise would be regarded as sinful and blameworthy.

(7.) This corruption does not destroy the freedom of the will. This is the ground upon which men are held responsible by God and by human law and conscience. The condition of man is indeed such “that he cannot not sin,” but this is due to his nature, which loves sin and hates holiness, and which prefers self to God. When man sins, he does so of his own choice, freely, without compulsion.

(8.) “The inability which is thus admitted,” says Dr. Hodge, “is asserted only in reference to the things of the spirit.” It is asserted in all the confession above quoted (he has been quoting various Protestant confessions) that man since the fall has not only the liberty of choice or power of self-determination, but also is able to perform moral acts, good as well as evil. He can be kind and just, and fulfil his social duties in a manner to secure the approbation of his fellow-men. It is not meant that the states of mind in which these acts are performed, or the motives by which they are determined, are such as to meet the approbation of an infinitely holy God, but simply that these acts, as to the matter of them, are prescribed by moral law.

“Theologians, as we have seen, designate the class of acts as to which fallen man retains his ability, as ‘justitia civilis,’ ‘things external.’ And the class as to which his inability is asserted is designated as ‘the things of God,’ ‘the things of the Spirit,’ ‘things connected with salvation.’ The difference between these two classes of acts, although it may not be easy to state it in words, is universally recognized. There is an obvious difference between morality and religion; and between those religious affections of reverence and gratitude which all men more or less experience, and true piety. The difference lies in the state of mind, the motives, and the apprehension of the objects of these affections. It is the difference between holiness and mere natural feeling. What the Bible and all the Confessions of the churches of the Reformation assert is, that man, since the fall, cannot change his own heart; he cannot regenerate his soul; he cannot repent with godly sorrow or exercise that faith which is unto salvation. He cannot, in short, put forth any holy exercise, or perform any act in such a way as to merit the approbation of God. Sin cleaves to all he does, and from this dominion of sin he cannot free himself.” [Hodge’s Syst. Theol., vol. 2, pp. 263-4.]

(9.) This total corruption does not involve equality of sinfulness in all men. On the contrary, sin is increased by cherishing sinful thoughts; by indulgence in sinful habits; by throwing off the restraints of society; and is affected by circumstances of birth, education, &c. It is also true that by natural inheritance some are more prone to sin than others.


III. Eternal death is also the consequence of Adam’s sin.

1. Without any actual sentence to eternal death, it would follow that the present alienated and corrupted condition of mankind would be forever.

(a) Condemnation can only be removed by proof of innocence; by legal justification; or by voluntary pardon. But the justice of God forbids him to pardon sin without atonement. By the deeds of the law can no man be justified; and, above all, innocence can never be proved. Hence the Scriptures represent all men, not pardoned and justified through Christ, as condemned to everlasting death.

(b) Corruption can only be removed by a cleansing of human nature sufficient to root out all taint of sin and to restore a holy disposition and habits. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in the people of Christ. All not thus sanctified by him are left forever corrupt. The Scriptures show such to be man’s condition that he cannot cleanse himself.

Dr. Dagg says: “The Scripture representations of men’s inability are exceedingly strong. They are said to be without strength, captives, in bondage, asleep, dead, &c. The act, by which they are delivered from their natural state, is called regeneration, quickening, or giving life, renewing, resurrection, translation, creation; and it is directly ascribed to the power of God, the power that called light out of darkness, and raised up Christ from the dead.” [Dagg’s Manual of Theology, p. 171.]

The following Scriptures distinctly assert this corruption and inability: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil.” Jer. 13:23. So also Jno. 1:13; 3:3; Rom. 5:6; 7:5, 21; 8:3; 9:16 and Eph. 2:1 ,5. Such being the condition of man, it is seen to be impossible for him to be delivered by his own acts, even if he had the will to perform them. But for God’s action there would be no deliverance, even if man had the will to deliver himself.

(c) But men have not the will to be released. This is evidenced by the statements of Scripture about their love of sin, and the delight they take therein, as specially leading to the rejection of the gospel. Jno. 3:19-21.

If therefore, the doctrine of eternal death were no more than the natural continuance of the alienation and corruption of men, we see that in the absence of the means to remove these they must continue forever.

2. But this doctrine goes farther and teaches (a) the confirmation of men beyond future escape in this condition of sin and misery, and (b) its aggravation, or at least a farther development of it, which is restrained in this life, and only slightly and in a few instances indicated.

This is taught by showing: (1.) That the day of judgment has been postponed, and that men during the present life are in an intermediate state of probation. (2.) That at the appointed time the wicked shall be judged and their final doom assigned to them. (3.) That that doom shall be as eternal as the bliss of the righteous. The strongest words of the Greek language are used to express the eternity of that condition. (4.) That beyond that period there shall be no change of state nor opportunity of redemption. (5.) That the condition of punishment into which they will enter is that of the devil and his angels, which is an entirely depraved and corrupted state of bitter enmity to God, and to holy beings and things; a state without restraints, in which the soul is wholly given up to sin. The 1st chapter of Romans teaches us what the removal of such restraints will produce. (6.) Some intimation of what that state will be is given in the devil-blinded, self-hardened condition attained even in this life by the worst of men, who, in their wilful, blasphemous and high-handed opposition to God and holiness, show that they are spiritually possessed by the devil.

Rev. James Petigru Boyce, D. D., LL. D.,–Abstract of Systematic Theology–First published in 1887